Design aesthetics, corporate culture front and center in new Austin office tour

Cushman & Wakefield, formerly Oxford Commercial, is banking on a innovative event to help the company gain an edge in the office leasing market.

A team of Cushman brokers is teaming up with Radical Architecture & Design to create an annual event — the RAD Office Tour. The inaugural event in early November is a self-guided tour of between 10 and 12 offices that embody both a corporate culture and design aesthetic that aids recruitment and talent retention.

A full list of stops will be released in October but for now three very different offices are on the docket: Bumble’s new headquarters in North Austin ( go here to take a virtual tour); the stunning downtown offices of Atlassian in Colorado Tower ( go here for a slideshow of the space from 2016); and Argodesign, a nationally known product design and marketing company in South Austin.

Cushman brokers Brian Butterfield and Lauren Spaeth are leading the new approach to highlighting the interplay of design and space in today’s commercial real estate choices.

“We want to be partners with our clients and not just office locators and negotiators,” Spaeth said.

About three years ago Butterfield envisioned creating some sort of program for his clients that would help recognize the often hidden, and powerful, dynamics behind real estate decisions.

“I wanted to put together some kind of symposium that would include architects and contractor and such because there is not a lot of that,” Butterfield said.

Circumstances unfolded such that the Cushman brokers met Josh Jones-Dilworth and Royal Frasier, who had joined forces to create Radical Architecture & Design. It’s not a conventional architecture firm, but a promoter and marketer of innovative design in the business marketplace. Both have strong ties to the tech sector but recognize that office space can be a game changer in terms of innovation.

Jones-Dilworth has been a mentor at tech incubators Capital Factory and Techstars and co-founded the Culturati Summit, an annual event produced by the Entrepreneurs Foundation, which promotes strong corporate culture and employees engagement among C-suite leaders.

“I’m an entrepreneur by training,” he said.

At some point Jones-Dilworth recognized that real estate is an element of innovation and success. Frasier, a former employee within the city of Austin’s economic development department and a marketing consultant with several firms, had developed a strong interest in architecture and design. The two knew they wanted to bring something new to the table.

Serendipity led them to Cushman & Wakefield where the notion was percolating that real estate and design play a large role in a company’s viability. The two companies decided a tour of leading-edge offices would elevate this conversation to a practical and hands-on level.

“This isn’t a tour of co-working spaces or cool spaces. It’s a tour of culture and people working for different companies,” said Tony Napolillo, marketing manager for Cushman. “What’s really needed now is conversations about how spaces interact with people… how space and culture interact.”

Frasier concurred.

“We’re not focusing on amenities and one-upmanship,” Frasier said. “This isn’t about ping-pong tables. It’s about how the space facilitates culture across all industries.”

Next month I’ll present a slideshow online with the finalized list of tour stops. The event will be held Saturday, Nov. 4. Tickets were to go on sale online Sept. 15 for $45 per person. A VIP ticket, which includes an opening party and presentations on Nov. 3, will cost $125.

“There’s really no office design tour in the country at all,” Frasier said. “This is an opportunity that we have seized.”

They hope for a wide spectrum of attendeess, which will be capped at 300 this year.

“We hope it’s a wide variety of people — CEOs, COOS, HR executives and everyday people,” Butterfield said.

Source: Austin Business Journal
Jan Buchholz, Senior Staff Writer

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